Monthly Archives: August 2015

Eltham Palace: Art Deco Adventure

31st August 2015

Art Deco at Eltham Palace (6)

Yesterday I hopped on the train to Eltham and instead of being taken through a painful commute to my place of office (as is my usual trip on a train!), I was transported back to what must have been the closest thing to the British version of the Great Gatsby, with a touch of A Knight’s Tale, at Eltham Palace & Gardens.

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Way way back in the 14th century the Palace was the place to be if you weren’t a starving, smelly and poor peasant, and if you could get past its moat and drawbridge you’d find an impressive royal residence, even with its own jousting courtyard. Sadly the English Civil War put a stop to all the fun (yep, England had a civil war – who knew!?) and it fell into disrepair and ruins until it was kinda saved via a 1930s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition – but instead of Ty Pennington it was all looked over by the new owners Stephen and Virginia Courtauld who put a definite Art Deco spin on their new digs. The couple were the ‘talk of the town’ at the time, the celebs you wanted to get to know, and if you were lucky enough be invited to one of their famed extravagant parties. Though it opened to the public in 1999, the most complete renovation was finished in April this year, allowing you to pretty much explore every room in the palace.

Before I spill all, I just wanted to say how nice the staff all were – I arrived a bit early so was a bit lost at one of the wrong entrance gates when a member of the staff came through unlocked the entrance and took me through to the right entrance and who showed me where to buy my tickets (all before it was officially meant to open).

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When you enter the palace proper you’re handed your own invitation – giving you a ‘persona’ or character to experience the trip through – so you can be that famous actress, or fighter pilot attending one of their famed parties – each character with their own personalised interactive guide. Every tour has been offering up ‘digital guides’ for ages now – but the iPhone/iPad + headphones kit with the many different perspectives to try from the various characters at the palace which was a bit more enjoyable. The main entrance hall is something else, just beautiful to look at and I don’t usually get too excited by architecture, and beyond that there’s a surprising amount to see, and all the rooms have books, diaries and personal touches to feel like you’re looking at a living, breathing house, rather than a stuffy, cold exhibit.

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If you’ve had a bit too much Art Deco for one day – the Great Hall with the hammer-beam roof (English Gothic architecture fans will know) is the one of the highlights and a Medieval gem where you can imagine a roaring 100 course feast, hopefully where you’re the king, queen, lord or lady, not that poor servant who has to sleep on the stone floor, live off scraps from the meals and bow or curtsy a ridiculous amount of times a day.

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One of the most adorable things I stumbled upon was the dark room on the basement. While not the most photogenic of rooms (pretty grimy and dark – duh) it was here that the couple developed their travels on film – Ginnie was the video grapher and Stephen was the photographer. A full multi media package that any tourism board would be happy to invite on a press trip.

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When planning a holiday we get wrapped up in using Google, other blogs, travel magazines and maybe travel guides, but these guys had it all sorted with their own walk in map room where they planned their winter travels to exotic places like Machu Picchu. I love the idea of being able to sit on a sofa, stare up at the walls and let my imagination run wild … Picturing my little plane (Indiana Jones style) transporting me to undiscovered adventures. It’s still under renovation, so there is the excuse to go back once they’ve finished it. 

Who else wants a map room?

4 Things-to-do in London This September

25th August 2015

Heading to London next month? Your to do list is probably already pretty long with planned trips to Primark, the M&M Store and the Eye but here are four less obvious but just as exciting things happening in September that you might want to consider …

More London Free Festival: Film – Thursday September 3 – Saturday September 26
Always dreamed of an open air film screening with the view of Tower Bridge all lit up looking gorgeous and the only dick in the crowd being the Glass Testicle (City Hall) overlooking you? The Scoop at South Bank can make that happen with their FREE screenings throughout the month. Film lovers will be besotted with everything from Oscar yawn-fests like The Imitation Game to quote-tastic yarns like Ghostbusters and the (unofficial) sing a long epic that is Frozen.

Open House – Saturday September 19 – Sunday September 20
Good news for those with a healthy curiosity about London’s buildings, or those who want to grab an exclusive photo that no one else has: Open House will be unlocking doors across the city on 19 and 20 September. Over 700 of London’s architectural sweet spots, including 10 Downing St, Bank of England and a 1940’s bomb-proof bunker at Neasden, will be open for free to sneak inside and explore. Sadly the Bank of England doesn’t give out free gold bars. Be wary though – some locations have an online ballot you have to enter to be able to visit, so make sure to plan ahead.

londontips

Apple Music Festival – Saturday 19 September – Monday 28 September
Not to be confused with London FruitFest the Apple Music Festival – formerly known as iTunes Festival – has 10 gigs lined up at the Roundhouse in Camden. And don’t worry if you are not a camping fan: it’s not really a festival, it’s 10 shows in a venue with a roof so you can crawl back to your bed after the show and stay dry in the marvellous weather. So far that ginger haired siren Florence, the how-long-til-they-split-up boy wonders of One Direction, and two dudes with a hat – James Bay and the skater/fashion designer/singer/actor/painter/artist/rapper/model/does-everything-better-than-you Pharrell have been announced. Tickets to the Apple Music Festival are free, but the catch is that you’ll have to win them by entering ballots on iTunes – check here how you can enter. I heard you might have to sacrifice a small cat outside the Apple Store for the best chances.

London Fashion Week – Friday 18 September – Tuesday 22 September
I’m sure the models all cried and lost several kgs in tears when they heard they’d been moved from the glamorous surrounds of Somerset House to a dingy Soho Car Park, but the show must go on! You have one month to get a phone with long lasting battery, your Instagram game plan and to put together your best outfits to strut your stuff for London Fashion Week SS16.

The One Where Tea Reminisces About Melbourne

21st August 2015

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You might not be aware, but that red magazine you see on airport newsagents stands, the Economist, publishes an annual most liveable cities list each August. So why should you care? Well, because of the reigning champ for the last five years, the city of Melbourne.

Thankfully, I don’t remember the weeks I starved on rice, the days public transport made me die inside and the moment my travelbuddy ditched me, but there were a ton of things that made me smile …

Melbourne

First of all, let’s NEVER forget that the city was the backdrop for the Marvel Masterpiece (compared to Fantastic Four ;)) that combined Nick Cage, Sam Elliott and a flaming skull motorcycle rider, what more could you want?

Getting stuck in a crowd at a live music show for a band who’s name I can’t remember and who never made it (RIP Toucan I’ll always love you!) where the main goal on everyone’s mind is to have a good time, or for a more quiet experience the ton of films I was glued to at the Astor Theatre.

When I’d get invited (sometimes not online!!) to a picnic that a friend of a friend organised. It’s something I miss – of course there’s red-tinted glasses, but there was never a pressure to befriend anyone, the focus was on finding out about people, sharing opinions on things on things we loved. Maybe I can set up sincerepicnicmeetup.com?

I thought only trolls lived under bridges, but Melbourne has something way better – Ponyfish Island, and after work snacks and drinks in the sun fills me with joy just thinking about it.

Food markets, no not the cool ones with butter fried chicken, vegan cakes and ‘the best burger according to a moustached chef’, but the actual ones that stock food like vegetables and meat – Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market was the best.

In Brunswick I got my hipster on, and pretended to be unique and be able to afford stuff in one of the many boutiques and vintage stores. I felt so unique, just like the rest of Melbourne, or the world, probably.

Those occasions I got dragged to new gallery openings even if I didn’t know anyone, just to soak up the energy, get free drinks and see what was new – I’ll let you decide which of those three things was most important 😉

I only lived in Melbourne for six months, it took me a while to feel it out, but once I did it never left me (like herpes right!?), and I still love the city with a sentiment words can’t explain.

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Economic impact of the Rugby World Cup in the UK travel industry

19th August 2015

With under a month to go until the 2015 Rugby World Cup commences, GoEuro.co.uk, the search engine for comparing flights, coach and rail travel options across Europe, has worked out that the World Cup will generate nearly £1bn for the transport and tourism industry.

As the UK prepares to host 20 teams, over 440,000 international visitors and more than 2,200,000 Brits in 11 cities, the impact on the local economies will be huge and, based on GoEuro’s research, it will be the biggest generator of Tourism since the 2012 London Olympics.

London will be the biggest winner over all, with 17 matches earning the city £197,026,000. Furthermore, transportation bosses will be happy with £15,420,000 extra income as spectators descend on the capital.

The 11 host cities will generate between £3,524,934.50 and £197,024,316.33 in terms of money spent on inner-city transport, accommodation, food & beverages, according to the number of expected visiting spectators and the number of games being hosted. For the tourism industry as a whole, the cup is expected to generate a whopping £957,429,314.07.

The research focused on transport, accommodation and miscellaneous costs and did not take the cost of tickets into account. The methodology behind it involved making an average of tourist expenditure by nationality of visitors (Visit Britain and UNWTO statistics) along with GoEuro’s Price Indexes

rugby cup

Tea Time

12th August 2015

Oh hi! So, the first Tea Time post seemed to go down rather well, so I thought I’d follow up with another on my fab life and wild adventures *ahem.*

The recently opened Central Picturehouse is gorgeous and a great addition to the shit bit of London around the Trocadero in Piccadilly where there are two of the worst crappy London merchandise tourist shops ever (if you admit to going in one I’m not sure we can be friends…). Anyway, the cinema interior is very classy looking and the popcorn tip top. Not a budget friendly cinema as tickets in the weekends cost £18.

I’m not even a huge fan of matcha, but the French Toast with matcha ice cream at Shackfuyu is so good it will make you weep with joy. I still cry occasionally just remembering it, and writing this post has flooded my keyboard with tears.

So, I killed a cactus. Good thing they are soooo spring 2015. RIP. I will bury you I promise, so you don’t come back to haunt me with ghostly spines!

Me and a group of bloggers were invited by the English Heritage to check out three locations on Hadrian’s Wall. Me and Hadrian go way way back and it was great to see a few of his hang outs, these Instax sneek peaks are from Chesters. And best of all, I can cross one thing off my UK Wanderlist.

Another stop was the Boiler Shop Steamer. Nope, it’s not a sauna or a giant steam bath, but a hip food warehouse-based food market where you can eat, dance, look at art and generally enjoy yourself til late.

We stayed at the Sleeperz Hotel in Newcastle. The place has fast WiFi and a decent shower, but I wasn’t a big fan of the rock hard mattress, I may or may not be still working out some kinks in my back!

The Housesteads site was my favourite and not only because it reminded me a lot of Game of Thrones. Sadly there were no hot Snows, Starks or Lannisters to be seen, but this soldier’s story on his day in the life was compelling and helped build a world in my head which I swear didn’t have a TV show theme tune.

Then there was The Cookhouse, where we had a delicous meal. How Pinterestworthy is this place? You’ll read about the above soon.

I binge-watched Wet Hot American Summer: the First Day of Camp and it did not disappoint. How often can you watch a show where Archer is a can of vegetables and Jon Hamm is a secret agent…Well there wasn’t enough Hamm on the menu, and far too many terrible 80s haircuts but you know, no one’s perfect…Now what do I do the coming 15 years?

Floor of the week.

Coming home starving and having one of your favourite foods ready for you is the dream!

How has August been treating you so far?